Search icon


24th Jun 2018

People from Manchester, Leeds & Sheffield are southerners according to this professor

News just in: this man is wrong

Kyle Picknell

“I’d lower that line about 200 miles if I was you pal”

Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones has caused some mild, mild (actually very heated) controversy by drawing his version of the North/South divide – the imaginary barrier that seperates the people that call bread rolls anything but bread rolls (a cob, a muffin, a teacake, what?) and have molten hot gravy literally coarsing through their veins from the people that must always wear at least four coats at any time, have never had a lunch from Gregg’s, call it supper anyway, and happily pay over a fiver for a pint.

The north/south divide is important, for both parties. It seperates us from them, whichever side you’re on. And as a Midlander, the lost child keeping the marriage together that people just feel sorry for, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. Nobody wants us either way. Northerners think we’re southerners and southerners think we’re northerners and everyone just thinks we sound like John Shelby ten pints deep, anyway.

Even as a complete neutral, the following depiction of the divide deeply offends me though.

Just. Look. At. The. State. Of. It.

First of all, it looks a bit like a toilet seat. Which is neither here nor there really.

Second of all, how can Hereford, a place very clearly, geographically, southern and not just that, no, a place so extremely southern they have a cider museum, be classed as the north?

I don’t need to tell you everything wrong with sticking Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, York and Doncaster below the line. I went to University in York. There was literally a shop there selling swords. You cannot, for one second, tell me that would be allowed anywhere below Stoke-on-Trent. You just can’t.

Anyway, Professor Tewdwr-Jones did explain his rationale on BBC Radio 4, saying: “There are several ways you could define a northern region – but perhaps the most pertinent question is where does London end?”

“My map is a northern area defined as ‘not London,’ where London’s sphere of influence extends over most of the country – determined by two-hour commuting patterns which is becoming the norm,” he added.

He currently serves as the chair of town planning at Newcastle University and consequently advises members of parliament on policy, whom he hopes will gradually take a more nuanced approach to what constitutes the north.

And that was his first mistake. The north has no time for nuance. They want gravy, they want chips, they want them together, now, as one, and absolutely nothing will stand in their way.

It’s like that Royal Marines advert. It’s not a line, It’s a state of mind.